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Wildlife project aims to learn more about nature on Quinag

By Mike Merritt

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One of the most stunning and dramatic areas of Sutherland is to be explored in an exciting new project.

Quinag covers 3699 hectares of the Assynt–Coigach National Scenic Area.

Many habitats on Quinag, particularly native woodland, have declined and disappeared, according to the John Muir Trust, which maintains the mountain path to the summits.

It says this is due to centuries of heather burning, overgrazing by sheep and a rise in deer numbers to "unsustainable levels".

Now the Quinag Wildlife Project (2020) is an exciting collaboration between Assynt Field Club and the John Muir Trust to understand the area better and highlight some of its issues.

It aims to gather all the available information on the landscape and wildlife of the Quinag estate into a common digital format to make it more accessible, and to inform discussions on the management of the area.

It also aims to draw attention to aspects of the landscape and wildlife – where information is lacking – and to encourage fieldwork.

Informing people about the stunning area through various channels and initiatives, such as workshops, is also a priority.

The project will employ a data collector to retrieve information on Quinag. Field trips will also be organised to offer people the chance to enjoy wildlife in the company of others and to learn basic recording skills.

The scheme, which will run until June 30, 2021, mirrors the Little Assynt Wildlife Project, set up in 2018 in partnership with the Culag Community Woodland Trust.

"The field club has compiled a preliminary list of the sources of information on the landscape and wildlife of Quinag known to it. It is very much a work in progress and we would be grateful for additions and corrections – including individual records – which may be sent, initially, to Ian Evans at ian.evans.nedd@gmail.com," it said.

"The field club is also interested in receiving copies of images from Quinag, to help build up a visual library of its landscape and wildlife. They should be accompanied by details of subject, date and place – with at least a four-figure grid reference – and photographer, with permission for their future use."

Single images up to 1MB may be sent direct to Ian Evans, but it would be helpful if prior notice is given in the case of multiple images because of broadband issues.

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